In response to a suggestion that Zostera green weed should be re-introduced to Poole Harbour to help stop the channels from silting up, The Bournemouth Evening Echo, for 3rd March 1957, contains this photograph of the crew of the paddle steamer Brodick Castle sent in by a Mr E J Simmonds of Stanley-Green Road, Poole together with some of his recollections of weed and other things
Born in 1880, Mr Simmonds said that when he was a boy he could look out from Poole Quay “and the harbour was like one green field, with the exception of the navigable channels. Since the weed has gone, the Sandbanks Peninsula has been cut off by the sea in bad weather about three times.”
He went on to describe that in 1898 Capt John Tilsed, pictured above with his bushy beard just to the right of the companionway, was given a clock inscribed “Presented to Capt J W Tilsed, SS Brodick Castle, by a few of the regular passengers in recognition of his uniform courtesy”. A rather nice tribute I think and indicative that good paddle steamer captains always knew not only how to run and navigate their steamers safely but also had an awareness of providing good customer service.
Standing next to Capt Tilsed is the mate Mr Harry Robertson who was later for many years Bournemouth Piermaster.
The Brodick Castle in a photograph taken sometime between 1901 and 1907 with a shot of Capt Tilsed inset with his Cosens’s cap and their distinctive badge with the house flag above the anchor on a black background.
Built in 1878 for service between Ardrossan and Brodick on the Isle of Arran, Brodick Castle came south to run from Bournemouth in 1887 and was bought by Cosens in 1901 who ran her until 1909. Subsequently converted into a cattle barge in Holland, she sank somewhere off Portland Bill on 31st October 1910 whilst under tow outward bound for South America.
Does anyone know if Zostera weed was ever re-introduced to Poole Harbour? Certainly the Sandbanks Peninsula doesn’t get cut off by the sea these days but that is more likely to be due to infrastructure changes in the approaches to what is now one of the most expensive places to live in Britain. I wonder what Mr Simmonds would have made of that?
Kingswear Castle returned to service in 2023 after the first part of a major rebuild which is designed to set her up for the next 25 years running on the River Dart. The Paddle Steamer Kingswear Castle Trust is now fund raising for the second phase of the rebuild. You can read more about the rebuilds and how you can help if you can here.